Our humble history

Two decades after the Second World War, the Philippines was still recovering from the great loss of lives and natural resources. With the influence of the new government, modernization was gradually felt in the country as seen in the establishment of industrial plants.

The Philippine government prioritized the emphasis on agricultural development and food production of the country. Colleges and universities became the center of trainings and researches of such endeavors. Two of those schools with excellent programs for agriculture and food production – University of the Philippines-Los Baños (in the north Philippines) and Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Musuan, Bukidnon, in southern island of Philippines – Mindanao, became the stronghold of the country.

Enrollment into agriculture-related degrees became a priority. To encourage students, the government offered scholarship programs. Financially underprivileged but academically high-achieving students enrolled at Central Mindanao University – to avail of the scholarship program and finish their studies.

Brought in by the much influence of modernization, CMU had greatly changed the minds of most students in the campus. Organizing and joining clubs and fraternities became popular. These became an avenue of interest for CMU students who were mostly bombarded with too much academic work and homesickness.

It was in the first semester of the School Year 1964-1965 when eight Agricultural Engineering students, at Central Mindanao University, decided to form an organization. Five of them were in their junior years, while the three were in their sophomore years. The main objectives were: to establish a strong bond of brotherhood; to extend help and assistance to fellow students; and, to excel in their chosen academic field. This was the beginning of a friendship which bonded the eight agriculture students.

The group simply wanted to form an organization where they could be part of, and be guided by a certain norm and conduct in order to excel and finish their studies at CMU. Thus, they formally formed an honor society of purely Agricultural Engineering students. As it turned out, the organization was very loose. In fact, the school would not recognize it simply because its membership – the number of members, could not reach the minimum requirement of establishing a campus organization. Along the way, the idea of transforming the organization into a fraternity was more tempting, since the elite group of some Greek-letter societies in the campus was popular and admired by mostly dynamic student and leaders. Some members had considered joining such organizations. However, the violent practices of most of these so-called fraternities in the campus discouraged them from joining. For a group of honor students in the college of agriculture, it seemed that such traditional ways of initiating new members is unacceptable, thus, they decided to create a new honor society called Society of Agricultural Engineering (SAE).

In the second semester of the School Year 1965-1966, the Society of Agricultural Engineering became a fraternity. The society simply transformed SAE into a Greek-letter organization, now known as, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣAE) Fraternity.

Meanwhile, one of the founding members, Arsenio Unahan Baquilid, drafted the first Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity –Philippines Constitution and By-Laws. The new Constitution and By-Laws emphasized the exclusivity of its members to Agricultural Engineering students, and to those who have exemplary academic performances only. It was considered as the highly selective fraternity in the campus. The group worked for the formal recognition of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity-Philippines in the campus. However, the formal recognition of a newly organized fraternity was a problem; this was due to the incumbent university president, who would not allow other fraternities to be recognized to avoid rivalry and jealousy from the existing fraternities in the campus.

The group went underground for a semester – existing without the approval of the school authorities. Despite of the lack of members and not being recognized by the school officials, ΣAE Fraternity-Philippines became popular. Most of the founders excelled in the academic performances and occupied vital positions in the campus organizations. In the school year 1966-1967: Emelio D. Almazan was appointed Associate Justice of the Student Body Organization Honor Court; Arsenio U. Baquilid was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Central Mindanao University Year Book, The Blazer; Eutiquio J. Lumayag was elected the Business Manager of the School Organ, The Torch; Deogracias B. Navaja was elected the Vice-President of the Student Body Organization and a member of the Senior Basketball Varsity Team; and, Alfredo C. Pepito was elected Senator of the Student Body Organization, Battalion Executive Officer, and Adjutant of Reserve Officer Training Course. Most of ΣAE members notably belonged to the honor roll. They showed exemplary behavior and involvement both inside and outside the classrooms. The new brand of love and unity of most ΣAE members in the campus was admired by members of other fraternities, some members of other fraternities even intended to join the newly organized, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Such impression gave way to the idea that ΣAE fraternity should open its door to non-agriculture engineering students who had so much admiration to the organization and were aspiring to become members of the group. Thus, the honor status was later turned to a social fraternity.

In the first semester of the school year 1966-1967, a new university president came in. Being the Editor of the school’s official student publication, founding member, Arsenio Unajan Baquilid, interviewed the new President. Along with the interview was the intension to submit the ΣAE Constitution and By-Laws for his approval. That day became the most significant part of ΣAE history in the Philippines. On August 9, 1966, the university president approved the ΣAE Constitution and By-Laws and that date marked the official recognition of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity-Philippines.

Overwhelmed by the fraternity’s recognition, the ΣAE founding members who also organized Sigma Alpha Omega (ΣAΩ) Sorority, which was intended for its female members, also submitted their first Constitution and By-Laws and was approved on October 1, 1966, just few months after ΣAE fraternity was recognized. Seven students from the College of Agricultural Home Economics initially joined the sorority. The two Greek-letter societies developed a strong bond –males were called, “brothers” and females were called, “sisters“.

The 1980′s brought tremendous growth to the organization. Its membership spread like wildfire across the country. That burning desire of every ΣAE member to share that love and unity with other college students to other colleges and universities was strong and unstoppable. Fraternal bonding of ΣAE is evident in every meetings and gatherings, in most social activities and undertakings. That gave much attraction to college students to aim for a ΣAE membership.

However, dealing with two different Societies, the ΣAE fraternity and ΣAΩ sorority became complex and impractical. Thus, during the 1984 National Convention, under the leadership of Dr. Publico A. Llanes, the Fraternity’s Constitution and By-Laws was amended and the integration of Sigma Alpha Omega Sorority into Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity became official.

The knowledge of the existence of a much older and considered the largest social fraternity in the United States – the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, is known to most of our members. Such great phenomenon led some of our local chapter members in initiating informal communications with Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity’s headquarters in Illinois, USA, in the late 1970′s. However, it was not until 1984, that a formal communication was sent to the Eminent Supreme Recorder of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, in the U.S.A. The purpose of such communication was to establish a dialogue and strong friendship between two different fraternities with exactly the same name. The communications between ΣAE Fraternity-USA and ΣAE Fraternity-Philippines were initiated during the leadership of Dr. Publico Llanes and carried over by the late Dr. Amado Exile, who succeeded him. At some point in the process, Kenneth D. Tracey, the then Eminent Supreme Recorder of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity in the USA, invited Dr. Publico A. Llanes as a guest to one of their National Conventions. Due to financial incapability, Dr. Llanes, graciously declined. After much discussion of a merger, it was unfortunate to note that due to the differences in history, women membership into ΣAE Fraternity-Philippines, and the differences in currency and fiscal management, a formal affiliation was not realized.

Looking back at our humble beginnings, ΣAE Fraternity-Philippines today has pretty much imposed its presence nationwide. It is a registered non-profit entity with the Philippine Security Exchange Commission. There are established chapters in almost every colleges and universities around the country. Various Scholarship programs and Employment Assistance for members have been established. Community and civic services such as tree planting and environmental awareness, food for underprivileged children, natural calamity assistance and even sports fest for local towns are highly visible as carried out by most of our chapters. Its members represent the many faces of the Philippine culture. By its strong influence and commitment, the National Council recognized thousands of members that compose 64 collegiate chapters and 12 alumni chapters, both inside and outside the Philippines. Our collegiate and alumni members range from agricultural engineers to nautical engineers, educators to administrators, military to law enforcement, and business professionals to medical professionals. Thus, symbolize the true meaning of brotherhood.